In The Works: Thriller On Jackie Robinson Assassination Attempt, While Playing For Montreal Royals
Photo Credit: S & A

In The Works: Thriller On Jackie Robinson Assassination Attempt, While Playing For Montreal Royals


Well, it's not for the adaptation of The Book Of Negroes, the upcoming Clement Virgo project that got you folks super excited when we first announced it last fall; it's also not his announced remake of The Harder They Come – the 1972 Jamaican crime drama classic, which starred reggae legend Jimmy Cliff as an aspiring musician lured into a life of crime.

But it does have some crime elements in it… and baseball… and a famous African American baseball player who's the subject of a Hollywood production starring Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie.

Clement Virgo's new project is titled A Royal Day; described as a drama/thriller, and produced by Damon D’Oliveira, Clement Virgo, Nicolas Comeau, to be directed by Virgo, from a script written by Gerald Wexler, A Royal Day "charts the meteoric rise of Montreal Royals player Jackie Robinson and the desperate machinations of an assassin hired to exterminate the rising superstar."

Intrigued? So was I, when I first read about it.

Baseball heads will know that Jackie Robinson played for the Montreal Royals – a minor league team located in Montreal, as well as the top farm club for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1939 to 1960, where Robinson would eventually end up.

There's even a statue of Robinson at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

As for the assassination part of the story… well, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that there would've been attempts to take Robinson out – the black athlete who would change the, until then, all-white face of major league baseball forever.

It's not clear what Virgo's film (Wexler's script) is basing its story on; whether it's based on real-life events, or whether it's fiction.

Are there any documented attempts on Robinson's life while he played for the Montreal Royals? A google search revealed nothing, other than the fact the he faced hostility from baseball fans, especially during road games.

I did discover a 1992 novel titled The Plot to Kill Jackie Robinson, by Donald Honig, which blends fact and fiction. 

Here's how its described:

Its 1947, and the all-white face of baseball is about to change forever. A hotshot young black player named Jackie Robinson has been signed to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But sportswriter Joe Tinker keeps hearing rumors that Robinson won't live to walk off the field. Tinker thinks there's a connection between these dangerous whispers and a Greenwich Village turbulent spring training to Cuba and back, the connection keeps gnawing at him. Suddenly it all hits home! Tinker is on to the shocking story-only it could be too late. For already it's Opening Day of the baseball season at Brooklyn's Ebbetts Field. And Tinker may be the only one of the 25,000 cheering fans who knows that somewhere in the ballpark a sniper is dead-centering Jackie Robinson in the cross hairs of his rifle….

Could this be what Virgo's film is based on? That isn't public info… yet. But I'm sure we'll find out soon enough, as the project appears to be attracting the right kind of attention, including being selected as one of 43 projects for the 2012 IFP No Borders International Co-Production Market, and most recently, one of 41 feature projects selected for the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) International Financing Forum (IFF), which runs September 9-10 in Toronto.

A Royal Day is now the third Virgo project on my watch-list. When I know more, so will you.

The Chadwick Boseman/Nicole Beharie project is currently in post-production, under Brian Helgeland's direction, and is expected in 2013. Titled simply 42, it'll tell the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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